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Excitement from diverse places

7 Feb

Reblogged 2/7/18 with permission from Rebekah Lyn’s Kitchen

 

For an author to be without words is never a good thing, but AND today I am struggling to find the right words to describe the emotions coursing through me.

It started this morning when I woke up grumpy. I’ve been fighting some type of sinus/cold virus for almost a month and I’m at my wits end. I wanted to whine, but didn’t want to subject anyone I love to that self-pity so I cocooned in my room, putting away laundry and trying to pray.

When my cell phone started chirping with text after text I grabbed it in frustration, then smiled. A dear friend was announcing the release of her first book. She’s been working on this for quite some time and I’m delighted it has all come together. The multiple texts from other members of our writers group showed all were just as happy. Reports of orders being placed on Amazon warmed my heart and energized me to get dressed and head out the door.

 

 

It was 10:15 and I wanted to see how many people were already in town for the much anticipated SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Growing up during the Space Shuttle program, I admit I grew jaded with the crowds that tromped into town for launch days. Cars clogged the roads and every empty field along the river. Families wandered into the road without looking and causing us locals to be extra vigilant as we went about our daily lives. This morning, though, I reveled in the cars parked along the side of the road and the visitors milling around. I ached to stick around and be a part of this historic day, but work called and I had to get home to get ready.

 

Early birds get the best views

Be careful! Eager spectators crossing.

By the time I arrived at the office, the launch had been pushed from 1:30 to 2:20 due to upper level winds. I felt a selfish sense of hope that the launch would be scrubbed and rescheduled to tomorrow when I would be home to see it. When the next delay pushing back to 3:45 was announced, again that selfish spirit perked up.

As 3:00 approached, I prepared to access the SpaceX livestream. The minutes ticked down and there was no announcement of another delay or a scrub so I chose to hope that all would go well. My pulse quickened when we reached five minutes before launch. I focused on my work until we were just under two minutes then my eyes couldn’t be torn from the video. Steam billowed around the three rockets strapped together and I clasped my hands in front of my face, whispering words of encouragement as if the machine could hear me.

With the last seconds my throat tightened and my breath caught. Would it fire? Would it rise off the ground? Would it explode on the spot or a few seconds into flight? Memories of Challenger gnawed at the back of my mind. The rocket rose higher and higher, three flames of fire blended into one. The excitement of the SpaceX team was tangible as each milestone was ticked off. I watched in awe, knowing how unheard of a successful test flight such as this is. I felt the tears gathering in my eyes and longed to share the excitement with a crowd of like-minded spectators.

The adrenaline has faded away and I think about how long it has been since the American people had a hope for exploration beyond our own planet. We have sent machines to gather data, but we need to send people to experience the outer regions first hand, to provide information only a human can express. Today, was the first step toward sending humans beyond the International Space Station and I feel an excitement that I hope you all can share.

In case you missed the launch, you can watch a replay below.

Source: Excitement from diverse places

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Be Soft

10 May

be soft

7 May

 

My ways are not your ways neither are your thoughts my thoughts-2

Helping Hands in Hazleton, Pennsylvania

20 Apr

We are pleased to welcome a guest blogger today, Paul Cwalina of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. His church, Grace Fellowship, has an amazing community outreach program . 

Helping Hands in Hazleton, Pennsylvania

by Paul Cwalina

Shake the World

Two years ago, a member of Grace Fellowship Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, who works as a supervisor at a Wal-Mart distribution center, noticed that the center was donating food almost every week to one charity or another on a consistent basis. He saw an opportunity for the church to serve the needy in the community.

With the help of the church deacons and elders, as well as fellow members of the congregation, the first distribution was planned for the first Saturday of the following month. A handmade sign taped to a tomato stake and held up by two cinderblocks was placed at the side of the road in front of the church letting the community know about the event. We had no idea if it was going to be a one-time thing or a sustainable ministry.

Grace Fellowship Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania

Grace Fellowship Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania

On that first Saturday, food was set aside at the Wal-Mart distribution center and five volunteers with vans and SUV’s met at the church at 6:00am and made the forty minute trek to pick up the food. The vehicles were jammed with as much of the food that each could hold.

Upon returning to the church, about a dozen volunteers unloaded the vehicles and organized the food, in the church’s basement fellowship hall while members of the community began showing up and sitting in the sanctuary upstairs. Food was placed into cardboard boxes and grocery bags and carried upstairs.

There was little in the way of organization those first couple months. People simply lined up in the lobby of the church and volunteers handed them boxes of food. Seventy hurting families were served that day.

Two years later, there is no longer a need for vans, SUV’s or volunteers to pick up the food. A member of Grace Fellowship Church who owns a trucking company, personally picks up the food with his tractor-trailer and brings it to the church. The handmade sign has been replace with a professionally made banner that is placed on the front of the church. The dozen volunteers waiting at the church has grown to number close to fifty volunteers each month, with half of those volunteers coming from Iglesia Kairos, a Spanish-language church that uses Grace Fellowship’s church or their services.

Semi truck

The number of families served has grown, as well. In August of 2015, the Fish & Loaves ministry served just over 300 families. Since then, the number has averaged near 250 each month. They begin arriving as early as 5:30am, even though the doors don’t open until 7:00am and the food isn’t distributed until 9:15.

While they wait, a deacon leads a Bible Study for nearly two dozen attendees in the church’s conference room, while the rest wait patiently in the sanctuary. While they wait, a member of Grace Fellowship Church delivers the Gospel message from the pulpit followed by a Gospel presentation by a member of Iglesia Kairos.

The ministry has recently begun to expand beyond the walls of the church as two members take the extra food each month and prepare meals for a group of homeless individuals who were found living in the woods just outside of the city.

When the last box of food is assembled and distributed, the volunteers tear down tables and boxes, sweep, mop and clean the fellowship hall, leaving just as it was found at 5:30 that morning. Volunteers leave physically exhausted, but spiritually satisfied.

Thank you for sharing this story, Paul. I love reading stories of communities reaching out to those in need-Onisha

Paul Cwalina was born and raised in northeastern Pennsylvania and is the grandson of immigrant coalminers. By day, he is a marketing executive, an economics geek, and a politics junkie.

Citing Ernest Hemingway’s “Farewell to Arms” as the spark that ignited his desire to write, the author is now turning his long-dormant passion and hobby into a way to tell a story to the world.

“I don’t write ‘comfortable’ stories. I want my readers to be affected and to think; to get out of their comfort zones just a bit. The biggest compliment I receive on ‘Dropping Stones’ is that the story stays with a person long after they’ve read it. To me, that says ‘mission accomplished’.”

Paul lives with his wife and children in Drums, Pennsylvania.

You can check out his novels on Amazon

Connect with Paul on Facebook

…and on Twitter: @PKC1963

 

 

Review Or Die! (Not you, the Reader — the Author) | Elk Jerky for the Soul

22 Mar

I tend to keep separate the book marketing side of my world and the blogger side, but today I am merging them. Mary Findley wrote this entertaining and informative post on why emerging authors need you to write a review.

 

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It’s a pain to write reviews. If I liked a book, I liked it. I don’t need to review it. Maybe I’ll tell some friends. Maybe I’ll lend the book to someone else. And it sounds stupid to say, “This book was great! I loved it!” What good does that do anyone? Other readers don’t care about reviews. They pick a book because they get pulled in by the cover, they’re a fan of the genre, or a friend or some bigshot blogger they follow recommended it. Who cares about my little dumb reviews?

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Honestly, I can sympathize with those reasons for not writing a review. But I’m still going to shoot them down and give you some help to understand why every time you read a book but don’t review it, you are sucking just a little bit of life out of that author. If people keep taking these attitudes and not writing reviews, eventually, those authors will die, in a publishing sense. Their books will receive little attention and that’s death for a book and for its author. He really can’t keep his story alive by himself. He needs your help.

  1. “It’s a pain to write a review.” No, it’s not. It’s easy. I even gave you a pattern in a previous blog post. Take a look, follow the steps, and voila! The review is done before you know it. Here’s that link.  https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/how-to-write-a-book-review-the-author-will-love/
  2. “Maybe I’ll tell some friends.” Please, please, do. But imagine how many friends you can tell if you write your opinion down. You can widen your influence and the author’s if you just take those few minutes and write that review.
  3. “It sounds stupid to say. ‘It was great! I loved it’” Maybe it does to you, but it sounds like music to the author. It’s like water on brown grass. It’s like food to an author’s empty stomach. Be that water. be that food. Say whatever you can say. Write whatever you can write. Just go there and do that review thing!
  4. “Other readers don’t care about reviews.” You might be surprised by how many do. Many people read reviews before deciding to buy a book. If there aren’t many, they might skip on to one that has some.
  5. “Who cares about my dumb little reviews?” But there’s another reason to give an author reviews. It helps give his book reality and credibility with sites where he might want to promote it. Real, genuine reviews are like seeds. They multiply opportunities for an author to get known, get read, and get more sales. You can help in this way that costs you so little. You can help a lot.

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I, as an author care about your reviews. They’re not dumb. They’re your thoughts and feelings. People who put their thoughts and feelings into writing a book welcome feedback. What’s the point in writing a book if no one cares enough to share their thoughts about it? I look at my beloved children, my books that I worked on to produce. I think, when some have ten or more reviews, and some have one or two, or even none, that nobody loves those children. Nobody cares about them, so it must be nobody cares about me either. And I wither a little. I get thirstier, and hungrier, and I die a little.

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I failed to mention one thing about reviews. They don’t have to be good ones. Sure, parents want everyone to love their kids, but if you’ve got constructive criticism on why a book isn’t what you hoped it would be, put that down, too. Don’t think all we want is a string of fives and maybe a few fours. Lay it out there — what you liked and what you didn’t. If we think our books are perfect, we need your humbling. We need your honesty. Help us be better authors. Even if we don’t do a rewrite of that book, it might help us do the next one better.

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So help us. That’s what reviews are really all about. We are flowers. Water us, feed us, encourage us, pinch off our dead blooms and help us grow new ones. Don’t let our books and our fire to write die in discouragement and dim corners. Shine a light on them. we need your help. We can’t do this alone. We are only the authors. You are the readers.

When you write a review, you become a “patron of the arts.” and you don’t have to donate $100.00 to be listed -Onisha

Source: Review Or Die! (Not you, the Reader — the Author) | Elk Jerky for the Soul

What if it’s ? Quit Worrying and Get a Memory Check During National Memory Screening Week.

3 Nov

National Memory Screening wk

I met Marianne Sciucco in the virtual world on Face Book. She is an author and to be honest, the lovely blue hydrangeas on her book cover are what lured me into reading her novel, aptly titled, Blue Hydrageas.  It is a moving story of a couple dealing with Alzheimer’s. Today she has her own story to share.

MarianneI’m writing today as one of the forgotten, one of those left behind in the fog of Alzheimer’s disease that took over someone I loved.

The first time this happened was in the late 1980’s, when, as a 20-something, I didn’t know much about this disease and didn’t understand why Auntie Gilda had to live in a nursing home and didn’t recognize me when I came to call. She was my mother’s oldest sister by 15 years, more like the grandmother I never had than an aunt, who coddled me as a child and expressed great joy when I took the time to visit her as a young adult.

Heartbroken is too weak of a word to describe how I felt when she looked right through me as I took her hands and said hello in the crowded corridor of the dementia ward.

She was not the first aunt to forget me, and not the last, and my story is not unique as I am among the millions of people who have been left behind by parents, spouses, brothers, sisters, and in some cases children who are afflicted with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

This is a disease shrouded in hopelessness, where little can be done to cure, prevent, or stall its progression.

It’s a primary concern of the elderly: Will I get Alzheimer’s? My mother, father, sister, brother, grandmother had it. Am I next?

It’s a worry of those with aging parents: Mom seems forgetful. Is it Alzheimer’s?

When memory problems surface, even simple problems like searching for familiar words, forgetting an acquaintance’s name, misplacing the car keys again, the thought train that maybe it’s Alzheimer’s starts roaring down the tracks.

All of this is usually needless worry as many of these behaviors are normal, natural, and no cause for concern. They could be symptoms of a medical problem unrelated to any dementia. Still, some of us stay up nights worrying: What if it’s Alzheimer’s?

Which is why it’s important to include a memory check as part of your annual physical. Healthcare providers recommend routine screenings for a variety of conditions: hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and cancers such as skin, colorectal, breast and prostate. A memory check is another exam you should do annually, to make sure your cognitive function is intact.

November 1-7 is National Memory Screening Week, and a great time to not only perform this check for yourself but for your loved ones, especially your elders, who may be experiencing cognitive decline. Memory screenings are for those concerned about memory loss or those experiencing warning signs of cognitive decline, whether or not there is a family history of dementia or Alzheimer’s. If friends or family are making comments about your mental acuity, a screening may be beneficial, whether you take one at your physician’s office, your local senior center, or at home.

Heartbroken

If you’re asking yourself any of the following questions, it’s time for a screening:

Am I becoming more forgetful?

Do I have trouble concentrating?

Do I have difficulty performing familiar tasks?

Do I have trouble recalling words or names in conversation?

Do I sometimes forget where I am or where I am going?

Have family or friends told me that I am repeating questions or repeating myself?

Am I misplacing things more often?

Have I become lost when walking or driving?

Have my family or friends noticed changes in my mood, behavior, personality, or desire to do things?

Early diagnosis is crucial in the treatment of memory impairment, as many conditions are reversible. But without proper medical care, situations can escalate and lead to serious decline or other conditions that may adversely impact one’s health.

Your healthcare provider (physician, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant) can administer a screening test, and many community organizations do so through the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. Self-administered at-home tests are another option. These tests take only minutes and may help determine if further investigation is needed. However, these tests should never be a substitute for a professional medical evaluation if one suspects cognitive impairment or decline. Proper medical evaluation of potential memory issues includes a consultation with a physician, a complete physical exam, a thorough review of health history, and diagnostic tests.

At the very least, simple at-home screening tests can open up dialogue, and introduce important discussions about what can happen if dementia or Alzheimer’s strikes, and how individuals prefer to be treated if it does.

Schedule a memory screening test with your healthcare provider this week, or visit Community Memory Screening and Awareness-Raising Education: The Road to Early Detection and Care (AFA C.A.R.E.S.) to find a local screening center in your community.

Brain Health

Some popular memory tests are:

The Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam (SAGE), a 10-15 minute, 4-page, paper and pen test offered by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

The Mini-Cog Test for Alzheimer’s and Dementia, a simple three minute test that is useful in detecting mild cognitive impairment, dementia, or an early stage of Alzheimer’s.

Talking about memory issues and Alzheimer’s can be difficult. One way to open a discussion is through reading. Here are five titles, including my own, that can help start a conversation about memory concerns:

Alzheimer’s Daughter, Jean Lee

On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s, Greg O’Brien

Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia, Vicki Tapia

hat Flowers Remember, Shannon Wiersbitzky

Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story, Marianne Sciucco

Additional Resources:

The Alzheimer’s Association

Visit our Face Book page, Ending the Isolation of Alzheimer’s

About Marianne Sciucco

I’m not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, I dreamed of becoming an author when I grew up but became a nurse to avoid poverty. I later brought my two passions together and write about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. I grew up near Boston and earned my Bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. I spend a lot of time on Cape Cod. I also survived nursing school and when not writing work as a campus nurse at a community college in New York’s Hudson Valley, where I live with my patient and reliable husband and beautiful, brainy daughter. We are ruled by Mr. Chance, a cat we rescued who thinks he rescued us. I’m currently working on a YA novel, “Swim Season,” about the new girl on the team who challenges a longstanding school record, to be released in 2015. A dedicated Swim Mom for ten years, you can find me during swim season at one of many Skyline Conference swim meets cheering for my daughter and her team. 25:00!

You may connect with Marianne on her website, Face Book as well as on Twitter

This is The Day God Has Offered

1 Oct

My friends know that I enjoy rainy, gloomy days. This morning my friend Regina Puckett posted her daily poem and it is perfect for how I feel about rainy days.

This is The Day God Has Offered

by Regina Puckett

I welcomed in a rainy, disheartening fall day

Even though all it offered were hues of gray

I accepted it’s silent challenge to find the color

Somewhere among its gloomy leaden, pallor

Even though it tries so hard to hide the bliss

There’s joy in the way the rain and earth kiss

There’s hope in the water that soaks the ground

And there’s music in the wind and its rustling sound

I’ll dance today in the mist and with the rain

I’ll playBecause this is the day God has offered me today

Source: This is The Day God Has Offered

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